When Nicole Warne (or as her 1.7 million Instagram followers know her, Gary Pepper Girl) married photographer Luke Shadbolt in Wanaka, New Zealand, it was the stuff of social media dreams. First, there was the picture-perfect setting: a vineyard with sweeping mountain and lake views. Then the wardrobe, made all the more high fashion next to the rustic landscape. Over three days of festivities, the bride wore five custom looks, each one more double tap–worthy than the last, starting with a top and pants by Australian designer Toni Maticevski for the couple’s waterfront cocktails held the night before the ceremony.
The actual wedding dress design process began six months earlier, during Fashion Week, when Warne attended the Valentino Spring 2017 show in Paris. “I was so grateful this collection was full of billowing gowns with exquisite embellishments,” she says. “It’s always a completely different experience watching the clothes move on the runway compared to touching and examining them up close.” The next day, she met with the team at Valentino to comb through the lineup and examine the details—from fabrics to silhouettes and embellishments—she might like to take down the aisle. Two weeks later, Warne was having breakfast at her hotel in Seattle when she received a package from Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli; it was her initial wedding dress sketches. “I burst into tears, and Luke was worried I’d just received some terrible news, but it was the opposite,” she recalls. “I’d just received the most beautiful sketches that, for the first time, made me feel like my wedding was actually real.” While Warne had been expecting one sketch, Piccioli had created three for good measure. A bride needs options!